Browsing posts from: Emily Rose

It’s always a strange moment when a new customer shows up at your bar and asks for a recommendation. You get a read of their personality, the sort of food they ordered, then finally ask them their preferences, a question inevitably followed by the old familiar phrase: “I don’t drink much coffee, what would you recommend?”

After offering a few options, they pick one or simply ask you to, and you get to work. There’s a certain mixture of emotional high and terror as you slide the drink across the counter and wait to see if their capricious tastes find it satisfactory. In that second, the only thoughts running through your mind are, inevitably, “Did they like it? Did I mess this one up?”

It’s a feeling unique to tending any kind of bar, whether coffee or liquor, that Toge Production‘s Coffee Talk recreates with vivid authenticity and elegant simplicity.

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We’re not usually one to post much news on here but we couldn’t really hold back my excitement for another ACE Team announcement, this time bringing us threatening-alien-geometry simulation The Eternal Cylinder:

We are extremely proud to present one of our most ambitious projects ever: ‘The Eternal Cylinder’. A completely original take on the survival / adventure genre.

Sign up to be eligible for the upcoming closed Beta:— ACE Team (@theACETeam) August 15, 2019

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We’ve covered a lot of “lost virtual world” styled vignettes, each with a unique take or theme and a particular accompanying thesis. Oleander Garden‘s PAGAN is exceptional and offers up an astounding amount of replay value. Not content to be written off as yet another trope ridden “walking sim”, PAGAN folds its byzantine gameplay mechanics into the narrative in a seamless fashion, and it’s this union that helps to elevate it amongst its peer in the sub-genre.

Set in the dying grip of a fictional MMORPG, PLAZA96, one particularly notorious for its user-antagonistic UI and hostile design principles, you wander the digital wastelands without much of an initial imperative beyond the urge to discover; a fun foreshadowing of what awaits past the game’s starting area. The intentionally clunky control scheme isn’t just a pleasant touch of authenticity hearkening to its roots, but rather a critical incentive for the player to fully engross themselves into the mindset of navigating the obtuse branching paths necessary for a complete story run.

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Part Worlds Chat, part Broken Reality, is an intriguing exploration of the strange wacky side of virtual worlds, but one that has been done better- kind of.

Primarily known for their comedy collaboration with Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland, developer CrowsCrowsCrows recent entry into experimental digital media is a little more up Rebind’s alley than their usual fare.

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Remedy‘s Alan Wake is a bit of a tragedy- and I don’t just mean the story, it’s an exercise in reminding us just how much external circumstances can impact the reception of an otherwise obvious cult classic. After a lengthy development cycle and poor timing that placed it in the middle of an awkward period in Microsoft’s publishing strategies, Alan Wake performed adequately in sales but failed to garner the kind of critical reception it deserved. Once the Xbox exclusivity period elapsed, it was finally brought to the PC, shortly followed by its expansion, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

It’s popular these days to riff off the famous American writer, Stephen King, or pull on influences like David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, but Remedy was doing it long before it was on trend. Max Payne 1 & 2 came with a parallel narrative that played out via an in-world pulp noir show “Address Unknown” which served as an allegory for Max’s own internal struggles. Remedy is fairly open about the fact that they have a proclivity for inserting homages into the works that inspired them, and Alan Wake was no exception to this formula.

Spoilers ahead, because if you haven’t played Alan Wake yet… you really should.

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Routine Feat – By Alexandre Ignatov aka sad3d

(content warning, Routine Feat and the games alongside it have a tendency to deal with heavy themes such as depression and the resultant emotions that come with that.)

A gorgeous summer day, but nobody’s outside. The winters are harsh in this country- you think they’d make the time to enjoy the day in the courtyard, perhaps they’re at the stores, or off at the lake?

Routine feat is about exploring isolation, and not in the ways that most try to tackle it. There’s no monsters here, no violent conflict, nothing to contend with except your own inability to focus on the task you set time aside to perform. It’s the kind of isolation, specifically, that arises from forced exile in creative endeavors, the kind that is a direct result of procrastination. Hammering away at the pages, half of it turns into a diary.. what sort of story is this anyway? Why would anyone want to read the frustrated writings of yet another grumbling person looking to vent?

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Not this time, it’s pure fiction. We made it up.

Urban Legends, Myths, Scary Stories, Surreal Tales of the darkness that lurks behind the window and in the shrouded corners of our homes; these so very often form the life blood of our design ambitions, but are we truly doing them justice?

It’s been a popular trend ever since the famous found footage thriller Marble Hornets to make rapid adaptions of the often fascinating concepts and urban legends that have their genesis in the online public domain of anonymous forums and social media. However, it is this very trend which kicked off a seemingly endless assembly line of content, churning the latest viral meme of terror du jour into a cynical cash-in soon to be found in the dark alleyways of Steam recommendations and forgotten tags, with only a handful of genuine gems cropping up from time to time. This isn’t to say that interactive media is alone in this trend, television and radio have a longstanding tradition of revitalizing the most haunting stories in our collective subconscious across multiple decades, bringing us works like Sci-Fi’s Channel Zero which seek to create direct adaptations of work pulled from stories found on the notorious imageboards of the late 2000s.

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We’ve previously covered Sonoshee‘s (@Sonoshit on twitter) Critters For Sale: SNAKE, a unique episodic take on the visual novel genre through a fresh perspective riffing on pop culture and to which shows no signs of stopping with the new entry GOAT.

Goat keeps up the intense visual style that made the original so compelling, despite going from a hotel to a desert the aesthetic remains fully intact and just as vibrant as ever. What has changed is the tone- Goat is an origin story of side characters from the first episode, and by the very nature of said character follows suit with a more dramatic presentation.

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I’ve been playing a lot of RUST lately, and it’s left me reflecting on both the works of Joseph Conrad and the various interpretations they’ve inspired. We talk a lot in games about how the subject of violence deserves far more scrutiny in whatever form it takes- Jingoism, Gore, Abuse, but we have a strong tendency in critical analysis to overlook the systematic violence that is perpetuated through the context of the material itself.

If Metal Gear Solid and Spec Ops: The Line are anti-war critiques, then I would wager that the likes of Far Cry 2 or Cryostasis are more in line with the original thesis of Conrad’s subtext, one also found within the core of Coppala’s interpretation: the prevailing focus on the liminal and transformative nature of warfare. One cannot go through war, either as an individual or a society, without drastically altering one’s super-ego (the self-critical consciousness) and their general perspective on life and the world at large.

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